Dartmouth deck collapse has neighbours checking safety

A wooden deck collapse in Dartmouth over the weekend that sent four people to hospital with serious injuries has neighbours in the area taking a second look at how their decks are constructed.

Four people remain in serious condition after deck collapsed during a party

Some people in this Dartmouth neighbourhood say they're not surprised that a deck collapse sent a dozen or so people to hospital. (CBC)

A wooden deck collapse in Dartmouth over the weekend that sent four people to hospital with serious injuries has neighbours in the area taking a second look at how their decks are constructed.

A party that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning ended in terror when a wooden deck in the backyard of a house in the 100 block of Green Village Lane collapsed and plunged 3.5 metres to the ground, injuring the dozen or so people on it. Four of those people remain in hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Some people in the neighbourhood said the accident wasn't a shock.

“I'm not surprised because a lot of the decks, on this side of the street anyway, are pretty much built the same way," said Brian Skinner.

"Some had to be replaced like ours and redone properly in order for them to hold properly."

Marilyn Devost paid thousands of dollars to repair her deck and rear wall two years ago after a leak rotted the area around the sliding door leading to her deck.

Debris scattered around the fallen deck. (Michael Dick/CBC)

“I just put my hand on the wall and I went through the wall. So that's how I knew that it was all rotten,” she said.

Further down the street, Skinner also discovered leaks in his house. When he examined the area where his deck attached to the house, he saw something wasn’t right.

"Ours had lag bolts on but the lag bolts weren't screwed into the deck. They were just hammered in through the siding and through the presswood. A lot of them weren't hitting the actual studs they were supposed to hit," said Skinner.

"A lot of the decks on this street don't even have lag bolts, they’re just nailed in — my neighbour’s deck was just held in with just four big nails. That was holding the whole deck."

He said he can't believe building and home inspectors didn't pick up on the shoddy construction.

“I was shocked, actually, that the inspector when the house was built didn’t pick up on it and that when we bought the house that the actual house inspector did not pick it up also — just the deck was not secured, no header board where it’s supposed to attach to the house. The deck’s just put together and slapped onto the house,” said Skinner.

Homeowners said a local company called Austin Homes built the houses more than a decade ago. The company has not yet returned calls from CBC News.

Halifax Regional Police are investigating to see whether a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm is warranted, but have said they will have to call in specialists familiar with the building code. They say they've made calls to various departments but it's unclear who's responsible for assisting them.

Officials with the Halifax Regional Municipality said its inspectors don't deal with existing homes. Halifax Regional Fire is also not investigating. The province said it may be a municipal issue.


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